French President Francois Hollande for the first time during his leadership of the republic visited the city of shipbuilders Saint-Nazaire, located in the Loire-Atlantique department in the west of the country, at the confluence of the largest French Loire river into the Bay of Biscay. During the Second World War, concrete bunkers were built by the Germans in this city to keep German submarines hidden in them. These bunkers are preserved to this day and are of great interest to tourists.
But Hollande arrived in Saint-Nazaire not for tourist purposes. He was faced with a simple and at the same time difficult task - to relieve social tensions among local shipbuilders, which arose because the French president forbade the delivery of two ships-docks to Russia, built by her order at the local shipyards of DCNS / STX. or, as they are also called, Mistral class helicopter carriers called Vladivostok and Sevastopol. The ships, ready for 90%, only without weapons, which they had to mount on Kronstadt, stood aimlessly at the berths of the plant for several months, taking places that could be put on by other vessels under construction. And, besides, almost a thousand shipbuilders were left out of work; they brought the company monthly losses of 5 million euros due to the need to supply electricity, heat, high and low pressure air to the helicopter carriers, and to organize their protection.
And the French president had to delicately settle the conflict he created himself.
We will tell you that few people know. The initiator and mediator in the conclusion of the Russian-French Mistral contract was today's runaway banker, whose issuance to domestic justice is required by the Investigative Committee of Russia, and in the tenths of this century, the senator from Tuva and the main owner of one of the largest domestic shipbuilding enterprises, Baltic Shipyard Sergey Pugachev. It was he who, as knowledgeable people say, suggested the presidents of France and Russia conclude an agreement on the purchase of two Mistral helicopter carrier dock ships, which in theory were supposed to significantly enhance the power of the Russian Navy fleet. This proposal was justified by the weighty fact that Nicolas Sarkozy was then preparing for the second presidential election and the support of the Dockers of Saint-Nazaire, where these ships were built and which did not have good orders, was extremely important to him. And having made such an order, not only could Russia unobtrusively support Sarkozy’s candidacy, but also note his significant contribution to the resolution of the Russian-Georgian conflict that arose on August 8, 2008 after the Georgian army attacked Russian peacekeepers deployed in South Ossetia.
In addition, it was believed that as a plus from this deal, Russian sailors would receive helicopter carriers, which the Russian Navy never had. They will be able to transport 450 manpower, 16 helicopters and 30 combat vehicles, or twice as many cars. Ships can be used both for amphibious operations and for controlling interspecific fleet groups, as well as, if necessary, as a floating hospital. And most importantly - Russia will receive the technology of building warships with a displacement of more than thousands of tons in 20, which are collected in just 36 months. And as a bonus, the command and control system adopted in NATO countries.
If we consider that in our shipyards such ships were built for five to six years, the argument, of course, was very weighty. And the "appendage" in the form of "NATO command and control systems" was generally perceived by some commanders as a cherry on a wedding cake. None of the serious people have even begun to doubt, the NATO members will share this system with their “probable opponents” or not. Those who timidly expressed such thoughts were quickly pushed aside: the times have changed, we are now partners with Brussels, in spite of everything. The system will be with us, not going anywhere. And when some admirals paid attention to the frank minuses of ship docks (weak weapons - two launchers of short-range anti-aircraft missiles, two 30-mm cannons and four 12,7-mm machine guns, which is obviously not enough for such a huge helicopter carrier, but also the inactivity of Mistral "For sailing in the northern areas compared to the Mediterranean, especially in winter, when the bay ice shackles), they were told: we will put our armament on it, we will strengthen the hull with additional protection, we will place our drums on the decks years ... And so on and so forth.
It was important that the Kremlin made a political decision to buy four ships from France. Not two, as usual in domestic media, but four. Two at once, and two more later, by option. The then Minister of Defense, Anatoly Serdyukov, who is often and erroneously called the initiator of a contract with Paris on the Mistrals, frowned with displeasure when journalists asked him about this deal. “There is money in the budget only for two ships,” he said, “we will order the other two or not, it will be visible after the trial operation of the first hulls”.
And Sergei Pugachev received an order for the Baltiysky Zavod for the construction of two Mistral fodder units and, according to "evil tongues", a French passport, which allows him to hide in France from being issued to Russian law enforcement agencies as a bonus for the signed contract. But we are not talking about that now.
Further история with the Mistrals, the surprise with them at the French shipyard is well known. The shipbuilders of Saint-Nazaire fulfilled their obligations. Both helicopter carriers, known as Sevastopol and Vladivostok, were, as expected, built during 36 contract months, and the flight hangars were rebuilt for the Russian Ka-52K attack helicopter, specially upgraded for these ships. On the dock deck, platforms for domestic anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons were equipped, which the French did not have either in the project or in reality, it was planned to install it in Kronstadt after the transfer of ships.
But the French election was not won by Sarkozy, but by Francois Hollande. He did not have any obligations to Russia, especially when the ships were almost ready, they began to put heavy pressure on him from Washington and the NATO headquarters in Brussels, demanded that Moscow not to give the helicopter carriers, since she could use them in “aggression against Ukraine” . Soft-tempered Hollande, either in Sarkozy's peak, or, indeed, under pressure from the Allies in the North Atlantic Alliance, refused to give the paid ships to their rightful owner. The Kremlin's gift to the Elysée Palace went sideways, and the Mistrals hung at the berths of St. Nazaire.
PROMISE - DOESN'T MEAN TO MARRY
But back to the stay of the President of France at the shipbuilding company DCNS / STX. Hollande boarded one of the Mistrals, praised the work done by his fellow citizens, and then spoke to the shipbuilders. “I want to report to you,” he addressed to them, “all the problems on Mistral were successfully resolved during the negotiations with Russia. And I think that in the future we will have a partnership with Russia on new ships. ”
“France wanted to sell the Mistral ships to a country that would use them in the best possible way. We did not want to sell them to a country that is at war. France wanted them to be owned by a country that intended only to ensure their own security. It is for this reason that the notorious decision on Mistral was made with respect to Russia. And the Russian side agreed with the need to terminate the contract. Everything went well with Russia, ”said Hollande, who was quoted by Tass. In addition, the French leader called the idea that Mistral ships, not delivered to Russia, "will be flooded in the open sea" ridiculous earlier by the Western media, ridiculous.
“These are high-tech ships, and such actions in relation to them would be unacceptable,” said the president. He expressed satisfaction that the helicopter carriers were sold to Egypt for the same price that was originally set for them. ” “STX shipyards will not lose a centime at this operation,” said Hollande. Then he, as they say, bent again.
The first time when he promised the shipsmen of Saint-Nazaire that Russia would order them new ships, which in the next 10 – 15 years, of course, will not happen under any weather conditions. This, by the way, was stated by one of the high-ranking Russian military leaders to the author of these lines. Having learned from the bitter experience of the “French non-commitment” and the inability of the leadership of the Fifth Republic to fulfill its contractual obligations, Moscow is unlikely to associate itself with commercial agreements in the field of military-technical cooperation with an unpredictable and un-independent Paris. This, in common terminology, is a medical fact and not to understand it, to deceive oneself and one’s fellow citizens is not the best feature that characterizes a policy of such a level as the President of France.
The second time he was very deceitful when he said that Saint-Nazaire shipyards did not lose on refusal to supply Russian helicopter carriers and resell them to Egypt or centime. A simple comparison of numbers convinces any unbiased observer that this, to put it mildly, is far from being so, if not to say tougher. We have already mentioned the downtime of these ships at the pier: “Vladivostok” supported the wall there for a whole year, “Sevastopol” - half a year. Multiply 5 million euros by 18 months and you will receive an expense in 90 million "EUREKA", which Paris did not compensate for STX. We now turn to the value of the contract.
COUNTING AND TRACKING
Ultimately, two landing craft, adapted to the harsh conditions of the north, will go to serve in Africa. Reuters Photos
The agreement to supply the Russian Navy with two Mistral-class docking ships cost 1,12 billion euros. Russia paid an advance for them in 875 million. Another 50 million euros spent on the construction of two feed compartments in its own shipyards in St. Petersburg, some amount for their transportation at the mouth of the Loire, to the STX plant. Built for these ships mooring wall in Vladivostok and Novorossiysk. Spent the necessary funds on a business trip to France to retrain 400 crew members for two helicopter carriers. In total, it cost the domestic treasury about 950 million euros, which France paid us in full.
Francois Hollande should be grateful to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who did not give a joke and did not recommend Rosoboronexport to sue the French partners to the International Court of Justice demanding to compensate not only for the financial costs of our country, which did not receive the ships promised to it, but also the penalty for delay in implementation, but then for breaking the contract. He would have exceeded twice the cost of the Mistral. But in the Kremlin, apparently, they decided not to waste time, not to waste time on legal proceedings, and to act according to the popular principle - “with a black sheep, even if it’s a shred of wool”. 950 million euros will not be superfluous for us. They can be spent on more important goals than the French helicopter carriers, which our Navy were, as we know, what is called, neither to the village nor to the city.
If we consider that in June 2011 of the year, when DCNS / STX and Rosoboronexport signed contracts for the supply of two ships-docks of Russia, the euro cost about 40 – 41 ruble, today its price fluctuations are somewhere around the 70 mark of rub. So consider who won and who lost because of the rupture of the Russian-French contract on the Mistrals.
Helicopter riders to fight Pirats
And now for the Egyptian purchase. French and Egyptian media recounted in detail that the signing ceremony took place in the presidential palace Al Ittihadia during the official visit to Cairo of French Prime Minister Manuel Wals. TASS sources said that the two ships would be transferred to Egypt in the winter after they dismantled Russian equipment. Control systems for ship power plants, communications, control weaponswhich is not on helicopter carriers (we'll talk about them a bit later), navigation complexes and much more, which meets Russian standards and is written with Cyrillic inscriptions.
It was reported that the Egyptian side at a meeting with the Waltz was attended by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Prime Minister Sheriff Ismail, Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri and Defense Minister Sidqi Subhi. The deal was washed with champagne, and its value was, according to the French and Egyptian press, 950 million euros. Exactly as much as Paris paid Moscow for the failed contract.
Why the Egyptians "Mistral", where they are going to land the landing, we will not guess. In the end, the country has a president, defense minister, chief of the general staff, they will find out how and where to apply these ships. One should not forget that the state of Somalia is located to the south of the pyramid country, beyond the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, and some of its citizens who are engaged in robbery in the Horn of Africa and the Bab el Mandeb Strait are called Somali pirates. It is possible that the helicopter carriers will be useful to Cairo to fight them and to support their allies in Yemen. But these are only author guesses, which may not be in the national interests of Egypt.
But the fact that Cairo will definitely need to bring this arrangement of purchased French ships to the mind or, in other words, to high combat readiness. That is, to install on it the necessary weapons - anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine. Moreover, the platforms for it on the decks of helicopter carriers have already been prepared. And most importantly, ships will need helicopters. It is possible that the ones under which the Mistral hangars were rebuilt. These are Russian attack helicopters Ka-52K, armed with unguided missiles, guided by supersonic anti-ship missiles, 30-mm cannons and other equipment.
Whether Cairo will buy all this from Moscow is a question. There is hope for this, at least in recent years, Egypt has concluded contracts with Russia in the sphere of military-technical cooperation on 5 – 7 billion dollars. It is possible that it will also need our ship-based helicopters. About this, by the way, says the general director of "Rostec", which includes Rosoboronexport, Sergey Chemezov. And he, it is necessary to understand, has information of state importance.
Russia earns on resale France "Mistral" to Egypt or not - a question that does not really bother us. There is a feeling that will work. But the fact that Moscow will never order more warships to Paris is a fact beyond doubt. Whatever and whoever promised Francois Hollande, no matter how thrown the words to the wind. Reputation is a serious thing. Once deceived no one will ever believe. And it's not just that. Our country will no longer depend on the whims and dishonesty of certain high-ranking politicians and statesmen. I think the Mistral lesson has not passed for us and will not be in vain.
Thanks to Hollande, now import substitution is not in words, but in fact is and will be our long-term and real state program.